You are the second wave

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The Corona skeptics seemed almost silent. Berlin shows that there is still force in the movement – and a lot of contradictions.


People protest against the corona protection measures in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. © John MacDougall / Getty Images

Terminator2 leaves no doubt as to what he thinks of the Corona measures: “EVERYONE STAND UP CANCELS THIS Arbitrary.” Sunshine doesn’t want to get up. She stays at home because she is “energetically strongest” in her place. Both accounts write freedom chat in the Telegram group, where they call for resistance.

What is simmering on the net can also be seen on the street. This Saturday thousands of Corona critics are in Berlin for the demo The end of the pandemic – Freedom Day found. What happens on the Straße des 17. Juni between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column is as absurd as it is Terminator2 and Sunshine suggest.

The opposites are closely packed and side by side without a mask. A man has hung a peace flag around his thin body. The rainbow fabric almost touches the Reichsflagge, which peers out of the backpack from the neighbor. Both listen to the words of Michael Ballweg, the initiator of the Stuttgart lateral thinking movement 711, who opens the event around 3:30 p.m.

A lot of applause, a lot of roaring, a few people have whistles with them. A woman in a straw hat and the Germany flag slung over her crouches on the sidewalk and looks completely overwhelmed. She cries uncontrollably, she is so moved. Everyone celebrates Ballweg, themselves and the movement.


Demonstrators in the Tiergarten in Berlin, in the background a Reich flag shown in radical right-wing circles © Dominik Drutschmann / ZEIT ONLINE

This is what this Saturday is about: show that you are there. That there are many. The organizers of the 711 lateral thinking initiative and the hygiene demo veterans of Not Without Us wanted to spin the big wheel again. Half a million people would come, it said. Shortly before the event, the expected number of participants was reduced to 10,000. Opinions differ as to how many there were in the end. And that puts you right in the middle of the fight for the truth.

It depends who you ask. For example the man from near Kassel, who traveled to Berlin yesterday. “There are at least 800,000 people here, more like a million. Like the Love Parade.” He is one of the few who even wear a mask, even if it hangs under his chin.

On stage, they make the demonstration a little bigger: “There are 1.3 million people here,” says Nana Lifestyler, the moderator of the event. “It is the largest and most peaceful event in the history of the Federal Republic.” The Berlin police say about 20,000 people in the evening. Truth is what you make of it.

“We are the second wave!”

People from all walks of life gather between the Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate. There is the family from Hamburg. Father mother Child. Why not bathe on the Elbe beach on this wonderful August day? “Because we don’t let them fool us anymore,” says the mother and adds: “I always think of the little one.” She is aware that she is now here to possibly cause the second wave of the virus. “I think it’s humble,” she says, “but it’s more important to live in freedom.”

Others have fewer problems possibly spreading the virus. Instead of “We are the people”, many chant “We are the second wave!” The image of the wave is a good symbol for the demonstration: what matters is Corona. Other political beliefs are lost in the pull of the movement.

A movement that, despite all the differences, is closely related. At 3:56 p.m., less than half an hour after the event opened, the organizers announced that the police had ended it. Hardly anyone wears a mask, almost nobody keeps the distances. Nevertheless, many cannot believe it. “Thank you, Merkel,” says one and is obviously serious. The organizers call for resistance. The participants sit on the floor and chant: “We’ll stay here.”

In the zoo, a few meters away from the road, a doctor from Hagen refuses to retreat. The man – born in Germany, son of African immigrants – demonstrates together with people under the Reich flag against the federal government’s Corona measures. “As long as fundamental rights are suspended, every fighter is a good fighter for the cause,” he says. When you are free again, you can start discussing right and left.

Reich citizens, right-wing radicals and conspiracy ideologues set the tone

The man from Kassel, who feels reminded of the Love Parade, says what many suggest. Corona is just the start of a much bigger thing. And that is why it is so important to resist it. It is about individual freedom, but also about the survival of economic systems. “These are dangers that many don’t see today. For example, that foreign investors are buying up Germany.” To prevent this, he went to Berlin from Kassel.

The older gentleman, type Rainer Langhans, who stood under a tree a little off the beaten track, had it less far. For the Berliner, the thing is clear. He is for peace and therefore has no problem with the imperial flags. How does that fit together? The FRG would never have signed a peace treaty, so you would have to go back to the German Reich, he says. The Reichsflagge is therefore only factually correct.

Reich citizens, right-wing radicals and conspiracy ideologues set the tone at the demonstration. They also oppose the police orders. At around 7:00 p.m., officials still failed to get everyone off the street. According to the police, around 4,000 have moved in the direction of the Reichstag meadow, and around 2,000 continue to protest in front of the Federal Chancellery. Maybe Terminator2 is also there.

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